Fiercely critical of NSA, Germany now answering for its own spy practices

Germany is embroiled in a spying controversy that is causing political upheaval and sparking a national debate about surveillance. 

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel discovered in 2013 that the National Security Agency had been snooping on her countrymen, and even tapping her own cellphone, through the media leaks by former agency contractor Edward Snowden. Soon after, she famously remarked, “Spying between friends, that’s just not done.”

Now, in something of an ironic twist, Germany is coming to terms with its own spy agency’s surveillance tactics and cooperation with the NSA. Continue reading

This Infographic Shows How Easy It Is To ‘Cyber-Hijack’ A Ship

An increasing reliance on technology in transportation makes ships and other vessels more susceptible to hijacking than they used to be.

It’s possible for hackers to access navigational systems and send ships off course, as this Reuters graphic shows:

Cyber hijacking ships

In October, researchers exposed how easy it is for a system that broadcasts the locations of ships to be compromised. They were even able to issue fake emergency alerts with cheap radio equipment.

After Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappeared mid-flight, a British anti-terrorism expert suggested that it might have been hijacked using codes to infiltrate the plane’s security software. That theory suggested hijackers could have changed the direction and altitude of the plane with radio signals sent from a small device. Continue reading

Call of cyber duty: Military academies take on NSA

By MICHAEL HILL April 10, 2014 12:01 PM

WEST POINT, N.Y. (AP) — If Douglas MacArthur or Ulysses S. Grant went to the U.S. Military Academy today, they might be testing their defensive skills hunched in front of a computer screen.
A team of caffeine-fueled cadets is spending long days this week in a computer lab trying to fend off threats cooked up by experts at the National Security Agency. The annual Cyber Defense Exercise running through Thursday will determine which of the five service academies can create computer networks that can best withstand the four-day barrage.
The 14-year-old exercise lacks the lore of Army-Navy football but not the intensity. Not only does the exercise dovetail into the military’s broader strategy of staying ahead of the curve in cyber operations, but the West Point cadets also relish the chance to test their computer skills against their peers. Continue reading

Russia’s New Ability To Evade NSA Surveillance Is Either A Crazy Coincidence Or Something Much Worse

Michael Kelley Mar. 24, 2014 REUTERS


U.S. officials think that Russia may have recently obtained the ability to evade U.S. eavesdropping equipment while commandeering Crimea and amassing troops near Ukraine’s border.


Cray X-MP/24 (serial no. 115) used by NSA

Cray X-MP/24 (serial no. 115) used by NSA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


The revelation reportedly has the White House “very nervous,” especially because it’s unclear how the Kremlin hid its plans from the National Security Agency’s snooping on digital and electronic communications.


One interesting parallel is the presence of Edward Snowden in Russia, where he has been living since flying to Moscow from Hong Kong on June 23.


In July, primary Snowden source Glenn Greenwald told The Associated Press that Snowden “is in possession of literally thousands of documents that contain very specific blueprints that would allow somebody who read them to know exactly how the NSA does what it does, which would in turn allow them to evade that surveillance or replicate it.”


So it’s either a coincidence that the Russians figured out how to evade NSA surveillance while hosting the NSA-trained hacker, or else it implies that Snowden may have provided the Russians with access to NSA files.


Snowden told James Risen of The New York Times that he gave all of the classified documents he had taken from the NSA’s internal systems to the journalists he met in Hong Kong and kept no copies himself. However — as Greenwald’s statement in July shows — there are clear issues with that claim, and it is still unknown when he gave up access to the cache.


It is also unclear how many documents Snowden ended up taking — officials say he accessed 1.7 million files — or whether the “vast majority” of the intel he took is related to military operations (as opposed to strictly surveillance).


Continue reading